Lib Dems call on Government to help save Sheffield sixth form

Politicians are calling for the Government to urgently review its funding formula to help save a Sheffield sixth form.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 2:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 2:08 pm
Liberal Democrats Laura Gordon and Hannah Kitching are demanding action to save Bradfield sixth form

Bradfield School, near Worrall set out proposals to close their sixth form, blaming the ‘drastic and regrettable’ move on a lack of funding and difficulties in recruiting enough students.

In a letter to parents  Anthony Moody, chair of Governors said, “Many of you will know that the school is very badly funded on a per pupil basis.

Liberal Democrats Laura Gordon and Hannah Kitching are demanding action to save Bradfield sixth form

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“The expectation was that this would begin to change with the introduction of a National Funding Formula, which would address some of the historic unfairness in school funding around the country.

“This would have improved Bradfield School’s income by around £600,000 per year. However, in July 2018 the Government pushed the timetable for introducing NFF further into the future.”

The closure will start in September, meaning no Year 11 students would go on to study their A-Levels at the school, but would be guaranteed a place at either Forge Valley or Tapton sixth forms. 

Bradfield School, near Worrall, Sheffield.

However, with Forge Valley being the only sixth form in the immediate area, many parents are concerned about the lack of opportunities that their children could face.

Under the proposed plans students currently at Bradfield sixth form will complete their course, but no new admissions would be taken, and the sixth form would fully close in 2020.

Now, the Liberal Democrat candidates, who could be responsible for covering the area affected by the closure in the next General Election, have raised their concerns about the planned closure and their worries about the lack of funding for Sheffield’s schools.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Laura Gordon, said: “It’s absolutely appalling that the school has been put in this position. Schools in Sheffield are being betrayed by the Government. Sheffield has some of the most underfunded schools in the country.

“This situation highlights the Government’s lack of interest in Sheffield. The National Funding Formula proves that we need more money.

“All that is required to save Bradfield sixth form is for the government to implement their own policy.

“But the political decision to delay the roll-out of the Funding Formula - benefitting historically wealthy schools in London and the South East at the expense of schools in Sheffield - is having real effect on our children’s education. We need fair funding for Sheffield’s schools.

“The Government need to step in now and sort this out. The closure of Bradfield sixth form would be yet another kick in the teeth for our area. We need to demand better.”

Hannah Kitching, Liberal Democrat candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge, expressed similar views.

She said: “The closure will hit parents in the community hard. It will feel like the rug has been pulled out from under their feet.

“We know that Sheffield’s schools are some of the most underfunded in the country and that is having a particularly bad impact on schools in the north of Sheffield.

“Around 6,700 students attend schools in the North of Sheffield which Ofsted have judged as inadequate or needing improvement.

“Bradfield sixth form provides a vital service to the community – a community which is largely rural and struggles to commute elsewhere. Many parents are quite rightly worried about the lack of future opportunities in the area for their children.

“The Government need to urgently act on this and provide fair funding for our schools.”

In June last year, The Sheffield Star and Sheffield Telegraph launched the #FairFundSheffieldSchools campaign to get fairer funding for city schools. 

As although the Government’s new nation funding formula helps the situation, Sheffield does not get a fair deal quickly enough leaving many headteachers trying to balance the books over the next few years.

The Department for Education said that schools in the city will attract an increase in funding of 6.6 per cent - equivalent to £20.4 million - when the NFF is implemented in full by 2020/21.

More than 8,000 people have signed the petition so far. To add your signature click here.

The consultation period on the future of Bradfield sixth form is due to close on February 26, with a governing body meeting planned for March.